04 May 2012

California Burritos

When I lived in Bloomington, Indiana as a student, there was an old Victorian house downtown which had been chopped up and converted into several things--bizarre toy shop, coffee shop employing the most heavily pierced and tattooed people in Monroe County (god, I loved that place), and a goofy burrito place run by a clingy middle-aged woman.  All they had in there was burritos, which the clingy middle-aged woman owner called "California style". Having never visited the great state at that point in my life, I had no idea what she meant; I think now that California style generally means there are a lot of vegetables in it.  The burritos were overpriced and not terribly flavorful (Ha! Maybe that's the California style!), but the formula she used was revolutionary to me: basically equal parts grains,vegetables, and meat.  She didn't offer much in the way of condiments (nor did she season her ingredients before heating them in the microwave), and that was the problem, but the basic model allows for a wonderful amount of creativity.  I recalled that place a few weeks ago when I was trying to use up leftover rice, tortillas, and veggies (you could call the mushrooms the "meat" in this recipe, I guess). And then I remembered the time I brought my dad in there and she unabashedly hit on him all through our meal, and I was glad I would never have to go there again.

California-style Burritos

Serves 4

4 large burrito-style flour tortillas
1 teaspoon olive oil
8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
4 oz. dried shitake mushrooms
½ yellow onion, chopped
1 small yellow crookneck (summer) squash, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large jalapeno, minced
1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup cooked brown rice, whole wheat couscous, or quinoa
Bottled green salsa
¼ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
6 oz. crumbled queso fresco, feta, or goat cheese
Plain Greek-style yogurt

Soak the shitake mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes or until they are pliable.  Squeeze out excess moisture and give them a rough chop.  You can save the soaking liquid for soup (freeze if you’re not using it within the week).

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil and sauté the onion, mushrooms, squash, and jalapeno.  Cook until soft (about 10 minutes), then add the garlic and spinach.  Cook another minute, until garlic is fragrant and spinach begins to wilt, and then turn off heat.

To build burritos, place equal amounts of rice, mushroom mixture, and cilantro along one side of each tortilla.  Top with salsa, cheese, and yogurt, tuck the ends up over the filling, and roll into a burrito shape.